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Putin Supports Moldova's President Amid Political Crisis

Updated

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with his Moldovan counterpart, Igor Dodon, at the Kremlin in Moscow in January.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not give up support for Moldova's pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, amid a complicated political dispute in which two rival governments in Chisinau are declaring legitimacy.

After inconclusive general elections in February that resulted in a hung legislature, Moldova's Constitutional Court on June 7 ordered the dissolution of parliament and ordered new elections to be held.

The basis of the ruling was a Moldovan law that requires a government to be formed within three months of the certification of election results.

But on June 8, parliamentary leaders from Dodon's Moscow-friendly Socialist Party struck a surprise deal with a pro-European Union bloc known as ACUM.

The new alliance, which controls 61 of the 101 seats in parliament, announced its goal was to remove the ruling Democratic Party (PDM) of Prime Minister Pavel Filip from power.

The alliance accused the court of misinterpreting the constitution and annulling the previous election results after 90 days instead of three months.

It also voted to approve a new government led by one of the ACUM leaders, Maia Sandu.

But the court responded on June 9 by declaring Sandu's government unconstitutional and suspending Dodon, the former leader of the Socialist Party.

Filip then stepped in as interim president, immediately dissolving the parliament and calling for snap elections on September 6.

Filip said Dodon was suspended because he'd refused to sign off on the dissolution of parliament.

The Democratic Party is led by the controversial tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc, who many say has been ruling Moldova from the shadows.

The Socialists and ACUM have also accused the Constitutional Court of being controlled by Plahotniuc.

In an interview with Russia's state-run Mir TV broadcast on July 13, Putin said the Kremlin "will keep supporting President Dodon and his present-day coalition partners."

Putin charged that "power in Moldova" was "actually usurped by oligarchic structures, oligarchs, who forcibly took over all state structures, absolutely everything --- law enforcement, the parliament, etc. In other words, they made money on the Moldovan people and used [the money] to strengthen their personal fortunes and leverage on the state."

The United States, the EU, and NATO have all issued carefully worded statements urging both sides to show restraint.

Later on June 13, Dodon called on Moldovans to join a rally in support of the parliamentary majority and the new government on June 16.

"We need to increase pressure on the outgoing government. There is pressure from the outside, which will be strengthening," Dodon said at a news briefing at the parliament.

With reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Mir-TV
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